Field Trip :: A Spa Party at Hiatus

By Chanel Dror

Can you guys believe that there’s only a week left in January? It feels like the first month of 2014 completely flew by, and I would guess that somewhere around this time is when the enthusiasm for our New Years resolutions begins to slowly fizzle out. In an effort to keep the fire burning and continue focusing on bettering ourselves, we took a field trip to Hiatus Spa + Retreat. What is it about spas? Just the mere thought of walking into one makes my head feel light and toes tingle… there’s simply no better way to spoil your mind and body, and our visit to Hiatus was no exception. But rather than a 60-minute massage or rejuvenating facial, the gracious and knowledgable team there invited us over to learn how to de-stress at home and at work. As one of our instructors, Mason, told us, “In the same way that the little things in our everyday lives build up to create stress, it’s little pleasures throughout our lives that alleviate it.” Click through Kate’s photos for all the ooh’s and aah’s, and relaxation-inducing tips from the day…

As soon as we arrived, we took a short quiz to determine our doshas. Known as your mind-body composition, the three different doshas express particular patterns of energy. Once you understand your unique blend of physical, emotional and mental characteristics, you can better understand how to keep them all balanced.

Mason asked each of us what stressed us out. A never-ending to-do list, Austin’s traffic, family obligations… each of us had our own answer, and each answer was indicative of our dosha types.

Click here to take an online quiz to determine your dosha.


Once we each determined our dosha, we discussed their characteristics:

Vata (infinity/air). The unbalanced Vata feels anxious, disorganized, and unfocused, and may exhibit dry skin, crackly joints and a loss of appetite. Balancing Vata means building routine, consistency, creating warmth and groundedness.

Pitta (fire). The unbalanced Pitta tends to feel irritable, frustrated, and may exhibit inflammatory conditions like arthritis, rosacea and indigestion. Balancing Pitta means reducing friction in your life. Think soothing and cooling.

Kapha (water/earth). The unbalanced Kapha feels withdrawn, reclusive and lethargic, and often feels congested, shows oily skin and eats for comfort. Balancing Kapha means invigorating the senses, stimulating and awakening stagnant energy.

We started by smelling three different aromas, each designed to calm a different dosha.

a. Vata, anise and clove aromas

b. Pitta, lavender, lime and sandalwood aromas

c. Kapha, cinnamon, jasmine and vanilla aromas

A stone facial massage is especially perfect for balancing the fiery Pitta, but of course, can be enjoyed by everybody!

Place flat, smooth stones in a small bowl of cold water, then using one stone at a time, slowly roll across the face. Focus on acupressure points like Drilling Bamboo (indentations of the eye sockets, where the bridge of the nose meets the ridge of the eyebrows), the jaw line and anywhere else that feels tender.

Tip: Keep stones in the refrigerator or freezer, then give yourself a quick facial massage each morning to instantly reduce inflammation.

If you work on a computer all day, you know how painful it can be when you hands can get tight and cramped. Using a drop of hand lotion, we learned how to give effective hand massages to ourselves and to others…

The self hand massage:

  • Hold your left hand in front of you, palm facing toward you, thumb up and fingers pointed to the right.
  • Use your right hand to firmly massage the tender webbing between your thumb and index finger, as pictured. Continue between every two fingers.
  • Starting from the heel of your hand, make short, firm, upward movements with your right thumb, inching all the way up each finger.
  • Switch hands and repeat.

The partner hand massage:

  • Sit facing your partner, and have your parter hold her left hand out toward you, palm facing the sky, finger spread.
  • With your palms facing up, insert your right pinky between her middle finger and index finger. Then insert your right ring finger and middle finger in between her index finger and thumb.
  • Using your left hand, insert your pinky in between her middle finger and ring finger. Then insert your ring finger in between her ring finger and pinky.
  • With this comfortable grip, tell your partner to completely relax her hand as you massage it firmly with your thumbs.

The Anywhere Steam Towel Ritual: Instantly relieve stress and feel refreshed anywhere you have access to water and a microwave.

  1. Dampen a hand towel and microwave for 1 minute.
  2. Add 3-4 drops of the essential oil of your choice.
  3. Compress to the face and take several deep inhalations.
  4. Wrap around the neck, or use two towels to wrap the feet. Or roll the damp towel in a dry towel, lie comfortably face up and place under the neck. Close your eyes and breathe deeply.


Recommended essential oils:

  • Eucalyptus – treats congestion, colds, allergies
  • Lavender – excellent stress reliever 
  • Peppermint – the only essential oil that can be used internally, is stimulating, treats headaches and digestion 
  • Rosemary – mind-clearing, focusing, uplifting 
  • Orange or lemon – mood-enhancing, cleansing, refreshing

Recommended Aveda essential oils:

This easy stretch can be done virtually anywhere, but was surprisingly intense through the arms and front of the body:

  1. Sit up straight.
  2. With the shoulders relaxed, extend one arm forward at a 90-degree angle. Flex wrist and make a peace sign with your fingers.
  3. Remain facing forward. Rotate your arm outward to that it’s now extending to the side.
  4. Turn your gaze to look past the peace sign, and take a few deep breaths.
  5. Repeat on the other side.

Nothing is more harmful to our bodies than repetitive movements like sitting in one positing for hours. The antidote to repetitive movements? Novel movements, of course! These three yoga poses  can be done at any time and work wonders to invigorate the body:

Lastly, we practiced some yogic breathing exercises:

  1. Three Part Breath (Deerga Swasam) – In this three part breathing exercise, one can gain seven times as much oxygen as compare dot regular breathing. The Three Part Breath is especially calming to Vata.
  2. Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Suddhi) – This breath balances out the entire self as you focus on breathing through each nostril separately. Alternate Nostril Breathing helps Pitta focus.
  3. Skull Shining Breath (Kapalabhati) – This is a super active, empowering breathing pattern. The Skull Shining Breath helps Kapha clear their mind.

As if we hadn’t already benefitted so much from everything we learned, the generous team at Hiatus sent us home with one essential spa service, plus cold stones, aromatherapeutic oils and sprays, and a neck wrap, all of which have become essential parts of my at-home relaxation practice.

photography by Kate Lesueur